US Supreme Court dismisses appeal on Obama's citizenship

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The United States Supreme Court on Monday denied "without opinion" an emergency appeal or certiorari case filed by applicant retired attorney Leo Donofrio, an East Brunswick, New Jersey voter who raised the legal issue on whether president-elect Barack Obama was a "natural born" American at the time of the election. He alleged that Obama had dual nationality at birth, because of his Kansas-born mother and his Kenyan-born father, who was a British subject at the time. Obama's birth certificate states he was born in Hawaii in August 1961, two years after the Hawaii Admission Act.

United States Supreme Court building

In November 2008, Donofrio's injunction application was filed with the Supreme Court of New Jersey. The applications then went to the Supreme Court but it was denied by Justice David H. Souter. The petition was refiled and assigned to Justice Clarence Thomas, who submitted the case to the Court for Conference on December 5.

The United States Constitution's 14th amendment clearly defines the law on American citizenship: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Statutes passed since the constitution are more detailed about who is a citizen at birth. Those born "inside the United States, or in a US possession if one parent is a citizen and lived in the United States for at least a year, or outside the United States to at least one US-citizen parent who has lived in the US for a minimum of five years" are deemed US citizens. However, according to the Constitution, only natural born citizens are eligible for the Presidency.

Amid more pending lower courts cases, two other lawsuits were appealed to the US Supreme Court, though neither is yet scheduled for conference. The Boston Globe reported that a federal judge in Philadelphia threw out a lawsuit in October, for lack of legal standing. Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania voter Philip J. Berg alleged "that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii as Obama says and Hawaii officials have confirmed; and that Obama also may be a citizen of Indonesia, where he lived as a boy." Federal courts in Ohio and Washington state have dismissed similar citizenship cases against Obama." In "Philip J. Berg v. Barack Obama, et al.", the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's Justice Souter denied the injunction on December 9.

In the new case of "Cort Wrotnowski v. Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut Secretary of State," Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg denied Wrotnowski's injunction application, which was thereafter refiled and assigned to Justice Antonin Scalia. The case was distributed for Conference of December 12. The Washington Times reported that Wrotnowski, a prodigious author and a health-food store owner in Greenwich, Conn. raised the issue of "whether the British citizenship of Mr. Obama's father makes the president-elect ineligible to assume the office."